May 20

2010 Election Study: one finding they should have kept to themselves


One of the interesting findings of the recently released 2010 Australian Election Study is that 55.6% of voters had made up their minds up as to how they were definitely going to vote before the election was announced. 

And 14.5% made their mind up only a few days before and 10.3% on election day.

I wish the boffins had kept this one to themselves. Right or wrong, it will only enocurage the parties to inflict more advertisements launches stunts and spin on us. 

On one model recently proposed by a republican knight,  we will have up to nine more elections every three or so years.   

With even more demands on the taxpayer to fund their campaigns.

The study is a serious academic undertaking and I am sure all manner of clever things are done to weight the answers so that they are representative of the electorate.

My reservation is that the sort of person who is prepared to spend the considerable amount of time necessary to answer a vast number of questions about all manner of things relating to an election is not your average Australian.

…deliberative poll…

 I had the same reservations about the Canberra weekend deliberative poll in Old Parliament House used just before the 1999 republic referendum.

People who are prepared to give up the weekend at their own expense in these activities, however commendable, are not typical Australians.

I would have had the same reservation about the 2020 Summit until it became obvious it had been gerrymandered to obtain a 98:1 vote in favour of rushed resolutions in favour of a republic.

(They were so poorly drafted they had to be surreptitiously changed later.)

Incidentally, in her 2000 book, The People’s Protest , Kerry Jones describes how, unbeknown to the organisers, the ARM managed to infiltrate and undermine the process for the deliberative poll.

…a flawed question…

 The 2010 election study attempted to ask the inevitable question about Australia becoming some sort of vague undefined politicians’ republic. 

It fails in that attempt.

 (Continued below)

 The question the study asked was fundamentally flawed:

Do you think that Australia should become a republic with an Australian head of state, or should the Queen be retained as head of state?

I'm sure this was unintentional but it would be difficult to get a more loaded question than this.

There is a fundamental dispute between most republicans on the one hand and most constitutional monarchists as to whether the Governor-General is the Australian Head of State. 

The constitutional monarchists have mounted a very persuasive case for concluding that the Governor-General is indeed the Austrlain Head of State.

Even with this bias, the results of this question can be of little comfort to republicans, even if this study can be treated as if it were an opinion poll and is representative of the electorate at the time it was taken.   

This is probably why these results  go against  polling trend lines over time which have support for a vague undefined politicians republic is down in the low 40s

…the answers…

With this loaded question, it is not surprising that the result indicates 55.4% in favour –not of a vague undefined politicians’ republic – but of republic with an Australian Head of State rather than The Queen being retained as Head of State. 

Little wonder then that the survey result contrasts strongly with the trend in polls indicating support for a vague undefined politicians’ republic is in the low forties and lower among the old and young. 

Even then the answer indicates that once there were a debate on the Head of State and once a republican model were unveiled, support would fall significantly.

A referendum on any model would be defeated.  

The results were

  Do you think that Australia should become a republic with an Australian head of state, or should the Queen be retained as head of state?

Values Categories N
1 Strongly favour becoming republic 550
2 Favour becoming republic 629
3 Favour retaining the Queen as head of state 696
4 Strongly favour retaining the Queen as head of state 289
-1 Missing  50  

Summary Statistics

Valid cases 2164
Missing cases 50
This variable is numeric  

Asked to 2,164 voting-age Australians at the 2010 federal election, weighted by age, gender and socio-economic status.


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